It’s simply impossible to prevent all sexual harassment incidents. But you can take steps to protect your organization from most sexual harassment lawsuits.
Make sure your sexual harassment reporting policy is clear, specific and well publicized.
Recent case: Lori Olsen worked in radio advertising sales. When she was hired, she received a copy of the station’s sexual harassment policy. The policy encouraged employees who believe they might have experienced sexual harassment to report the incident to their immediate supervisor, any member of, the station manager or the president of the company.
The policy also stated that it expected all employees to report sexual harassment rather than ignore it.
Olsen began having problems with her supervisor, and she alleged he began asking her for oral sex.
Meanwhile, Olsen had been pocketing part of the payments advertisers made to the station, intending to repay the money when monthly bills went out. She later said she believed the practice was allowed. The station found out and fired her.
She sued for sexual harassment. But while it was clear that her supervisor might have propositioned her for sexual favors, he had nothing to do with her termination. The station argued that she was obligated to report the harassment and never did.
The court said that under the circumstances, the company couldn’t have known about the alleged harassment and wasn’t responsible. (Olsen v. Red Rock Radio, No. 08-1164, DC MN, 2010)
- Legitimate business reasons for decision? Feel free to fire employee who has complained
- Set equitable system for assigning overtime--it's an essential defense against bias claims
- You Needn't Accommodate Some 'Serious' Ailments
- Suspect sick leave abuse? Set strong policy to stamp it out--and allow legit FMLA leave
- Can we pay hourly staff comp time instead of OT?